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House Journal: Page 1082: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

I also note increased discussion for school reorganization. Some schools today are
clearly too small. I recommend you to the Great Plains Report which was commissioned
by the Legislature in 1964. The last time I checked there was one copy remaining in
the Service Bureau Library. The report looked at school districts and concluded that
there was an optimum size - that districts could be too large and too small. The per
pupil cost was like a bell curve. Districts that were too large or too small could be given
incentives beyond what exist today, to merge. You could consider county-like districts
in rural areas where several districts would be merged with one superintendent and
one board but with multiple attendance centers. Thus, in a rural county with four
districts predominantly within the county, they could still retain their four high schools
with all the extra-curricular activities remaining in the community but sharing faculty
and even facilities. There would be some savings but also some additional
transportation costs. Students would have the advantage of more class offerings and
better qualified instructors in some instances.

Lastly I find myself perplexed by one action or inaction of this general assembly.
Some years ago you created rainy day funds. This was even discussed in antiquity
when I was down here and it should have been enacted then. You showed foresight
when you created these funds. What I fail to understand is your failure to utilize the
funds now that there is a downturn in our economy and the state's revenue has fallen
substantially below projections. While some may think this is not an emergency, it
certainly seems so to me. Why else create the fund if not to use when revenue dips
substantially. When the economy starts to grow again, you can start to replenish the
fund.

What you must realize is that state programs can certainly be cut, but when they
are, there are repercussions to some of the people. Sometimes it takes years before the
total impact is understood but it does have an effect. For example cut funds to prisons
and you are encouraging more overcrowding than we now have and a takeover by the
federal courts. Cut school aid, and gradually the quality of our schools and the
infrastructure will deteriorate. The same is true with our universities and community
colleges. I understand that this is gradual but it nonetheless takes place. When we try
to encourage new businesses to come to Iowa or existing businesses to expand in Iowa,
they all tell me they look at our infrastructure, i.e. schools, hospitals, roads etc.
Additionally, when you reduce state programs, invariably costs are shifted to the local
property tax which is probably the one Iowa tax that is out of line with surrounding
states. By arbitrarily putting limits on local governments beyond what now exists, you
are hamstringing the government that is closest to the people. Instead of limiting local
government, during the good times of the last ten or so years, you should have been
shifting the cost from the property tax to state revenue such as has been done with
schools.

I understand that in times such as these your job is difficult. There is a government
that is divided politically. You are beseiged by outsiders and press who know what you
should do but who do not have a consensus among themselves. Whatever you do there
will be critics who berate you. Notwithstanding all this, remember that there have
been times when under such circumstances some of our best legislation has been
passed and that it has stood the test of time. I certainly wish you success with the very
difficult issues confronting you today.

The Memorial Choir sang “The Irish Blessing”.



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